It welcomed yesterday the House of Representatives’ passage on third and final reading of a bill to introduce the program among senior high students.
DepEd ensures students’ safety in ROTC
Janvic Mateo (The Philippine Star) - May 24, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines —  The Department of Education (DepEd) has given assurance of the strict enforcement of existing laws and policies to ensure the safety of students should the government decide to revive the mandatory implementation of the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) in senior high school. 

It welcomed yesterday the House of Representatives’ passage on third and final reading of a bill to introduce the program among senior high students.

Should the proposal hurdle the Senate and is signed into law by President Duterte, the DepEd said it would advocate for strict adherence to existing policies to help ensure the protection and safety of learners. 

These include the recognition of schools as zones of peace, prohibition of firearms in schools, the child protection policy and guidelines on management of children-at-risk and in conflict with the law. 

DepEd also cited the laws on special protection of children against abuse and discrimination and on anti-hazing, prohibition of fraternities and sororities in elementary and high schools and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. It also proposed to the Senate the inclusion of additional provisions, including the establishment of grievance committees from districts to the national level. 

The agency also proposed the creation of a joint congressional oversight committee and the imposition of maximum penalty for offenses committed by implementors and the establishment of an ROTC instructors’ academy.

These are aside from a scheme to first implement the program on a pilot scale, limiting it to a number of schools in the first two years of implementation.

“President Duterte’s preference and instruction to revive the mandatory ROTC, especially his reiteration during the opening ceremonies of the 2017 Palarong Pambansa, set the direction for DepEd to start coordinating with the Department of National Defense (DND) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) on its implementation,” said the DepEd in its statement. 

It said the series of consultations and discussions resulted in various agreements, including the creation of a joint technical working group and a joint secretariat on the matter. 

The DepEd said they have also conceptualized with the DND and AFP the Advance Citizens Training Program, which could be implemented pending the passage of the law reviving mandatory ROTC. DepEd stressed that the priority of ROTC should be patriotism, nationalism and core values; national heroes and history of the Filipino nation; Filipino citizenship, civic duty and discipline; and respect for human and civil rights, rule of law and law enforcement. 

Other priorities include critical thinking, leadership and scientific and technological development; disaster preparedness and response, rescue and first aid, and recovery and rehabilitation; ecology and environment protection; and anti-drug abuse and anti-poverty. 

The Alliance of Concerned Teachers, however, stressed that the reimposition of mandatory ROTC would be a regression from what the country has achieved regarding programs aimed at preparing the youth for their role in national development.

“The debate on the effectivity of ROTC to achieve its declared aims have been closed in 2002 when its rotten culture of violence and corruption was exposed. The discourse on the matter has advanced towards recognizing community immersion and involvement as more productive means for the youth to participate in nation building,” said ACT secretary general Raymond Basilio.

Instead of reimposing mandatory ROTC, Basilio urged the DepEd to reestablish Philippine History as a core subject in high school to instill patriotism in students as he believed that historical consciousness coupled with community exposure will develop the students’ understanding of the country’s situation as well as foster greater compassion toward people.

“These values, if successfully imbibed by the youth, will be the country’s best defense against any threat to our sovereignty,” he added. 

Magna carta for PWDs

Meanwhile, the House of Representatives is poised to approve on third and final reading a bill that will encourage employers, both in public and private sectors, to hire persons with disabilities. 

House Bill 9106, which seeks to grant additional privileges to PWDs, will amend provisions of the Magna Carta for PWDs (Republic Act 7277) such as mandatory employment in government offices and corporations as well the private sector.  

Under the proposed law authored by outgoing Iloilo City Rep. Jerry Treñas, all government agencies, offices or government corporations are mandated to fill at least two percent of all positions for qualified PWDs. 

“Once approved, the government will also provide free wheelchairs, walkers, canes and other aids for our PWDs whenever funds allow. This will be a big help in boosting the morale of our PWDs,” he said. 

Treñas, incoming mayor of Iloilo, believes Congress still has time to approve the measure after HB 9106 was approved on second reading this week. Congress has sessions until June 7 before going on a break.    – With Delon Porcalla

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